Labour’s class size pledge to ‘improve education standards for all children’

Primary school class sizes would be capped at 30, with a guarantee that every child is taught by a qualified teacher, under plans announced by Labour to “improve education standards for all children”.

The party pledged to recruit nearly 20,000 more teachers, whilst “ensuring around 25,000 currently unqualified staff” are fully trained during Labour’s first term, if it won a majority on December 12.

Labour has also promised a new £7 billion fund for school buildings which it said would “tackle the backlog of vital but overdue repairs and install safety measures such as sprinklers”.

It would also fund more time for lesson planning and professional development for teachers, the party added.

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said Labour would “close the gap in funding” for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities, providing extra funding to “reverse deficits” in the high needs budget.

Ms Rayner added the party would “fully reverse cuts” to the pupil premium, and boost spending on it above inflation to support the most disadvantaged pupils.

She said: “Labour will transform education standards in this country for every child, capping class sizes and ensuring every child is taught by a qualified teacher in a safe school building.

“We will invest in record per pupil funding, restore the pupil premium and close the gap in support for children with special educational needs and disabilities, to give every child the support they need.

“The Tories cannot be trusted to do this. They have slashed school funding for the first time in a generation, leaving pupils taught by unqualified teachers, crammed into super-sized classes, and not receiving the support they need.”

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) economic think tank has previously said that Labour’s proposals would mean a 15% (14.6%) real-terms increase in per pupil funding over the next three years.

General secretary of the NAHT (National Association of Head Teachers) Paul Whiteman said school budgets “are at breaking point”.

He added: “Labour’s additional £7 billion to tackle repairs is very welcome and is equivalent to National Audit Office’s estimate of what it would cost to return all school buildings to satisfactory or better condition.

“However, on recruitment, Labour are well short of the 47,000 secondary teachers and 8,000 primary teachers that are needed by 2024 in order to keep pace with growing pupil numbers.

“We need significantly more recruits than Labour are suggesting just to meet rising demand, never mind reduce current class sizes.

“The new recruits we need will not magically appear, and nor will they stay if we don’t also address the stress and unnecessary workload that is widespread in the system.”

Responding, Schools Minister Nick Gibb said: “Just this week, the Pisa assessment (Programme for International Student Assessment) has shown England’s schools have risen up international league tables under the Conservatives.

“Sadly, in Labour-run Wales, schools ranked worst in the UK and, under the SNP, Scotland recorded its worst-ever performance in reading and maths.

“Conservative education reforms are improving standards in our schools, meaning children can get a better start in life.

“These results show starkly what a Corbyn-Sturgeon alliance would do to our schools and children’s prospects.”

Liberal Democrat education spokeswoman Layla Moran said: “While Labour have attempted to copy the Liberal Democrat policy to employ 20,000 more teachers, they have no hope of meeting this target.

“With thousands of EU teachers coming to work in schools each year, Labour cannot square these promises with delivering Brexit.”